The Times launches new iPhone app

Paywalled to the eyeballs national newspaper, The Times, has released an all new iPhone app this week. It’s available in the iTunes store, right now!

The screen shot says the app is free, and of course this is technically true. But being behind a paywall, the content is only available to subscribers of The Times and The Sunday Times who fork out £2 a week for a digital sub.

The Times iPhone app

However, this app is a little different as there is a limited free trial period for new users – so you can grab all of Team Murdoch’s thoughts on the day’s events for nought.

For The Times, a better approach to suck in readers would have been to offer a trial on the use-based model, rather than a time limited one. Granted this is more popular with World of Warcraft types right now, but there is a potential application in the digital publishing realm.

Using this model, readers can only access so many articles before they’re forced to pay up. And if they really want to continue reading they will sure as sugar pay up. But with the time limited model, if you download the app and then forget about it for a few days – that’s your lot son. Perhaps the The Times missed a little trick with this release.

For US readers, you can grab is from iTunes US too – under the very British name of The Times of London. What what. Enjoy!

What’s a Facebook Fan Worth?

facebook social media measurement

Social media measurement. It’s a big ol’ pot of difficulty. Many people are trying to come up with qualitative measurement principles that provide a clear connection between a brand’s social media activity and bottom line impact on the business.  ‘We got a thousand ‘likes’ on Facebook? Great! So how much kit did that shift? Duno? Really? Okay then’. Even the PR industry’s own CIPR is having a bash at it.

There’s no single answer right now, but some research from Hitwise UK has come up with an interesting tidbit: 1 Facebook Fan = 20 visits to your website. Interesting eh? There’s a whole lot of clever thinking behind this, really it is something. Check it out on the site.

There’s more than a few good reasons to pay attention to Facebook too, if you don’t already. For one, as Robin Goad points out, “1 in every 6 page views from UK Internet users goes to a Facebook page, and 20 million hours are spent on the website every day from UK users alone.”

That’s a whole lotta traffic.

More interesting for retailers, the information collected by Hitwise indicated consumers are 54% more likely to search for a brand having visited a Facebook page first – provided it is a fashion brand (or a high street book, magazine and stationary retailer).

So if you’re into clothes, books or even books about close, chances are you’ll be hit up with some Facebok campaigns soon – if not already.

Does more content = more readers?

Paid Content posted a great interactive graph looking at the volume of stories posted by national newspapers. Unsurprisingly, the majority of publications also post most of their content Monday to Friday, when lots of us are sitting in front of screens with easy access to their websites.

Given April’s news that the Daily Mail had overtaken the Huffington Post in terms of web traffic, it’s interesting to see that the paper posts the second most content of all nationals measured. In fact, the top three in terms of volume (Mail, Guardian and Telegraph) are also the top three in terms of volume of content. As we know, more readers mean more advertising dollars, which keeps the sites free to access (ahem, Times).

Is it simply that posting so much content on breaking news keeps these sites at the top of search rankings? If it’s that easy, journalists are going to be under increasing pressure to produce more content, which could have a negative impact on the quality of work produced.

Carlsberg don’t do newspaper promotions…but Heineken does

While other newspaper’s are working hard to generate revenue from mobile apps and paywalls, The Independent’s sister title ‘i’ has taken a different tact. From the 23rd June, readers will be able to access the paper’s content on their mobile, tablet or laptop, without paying the 20p print cost, through a new ‘app’ of sorts.

The initiative is a part of a sponsorship deal with beer brand Heineken, and comes with a few catches:

  • You have to be in one of the selected pubs running the promotion, which limits you to water holes in either London or Cardiff
  • You have to log-on to your chosen pub’s Wifi to access the paper’s content online
  • You have to wait until 11am, presumably timed to favour the pubs, to read your paper. Of course, if you’re wanting to be in a pub before 11am you probably have bigger problems than online access to national news.

It’s an interesting idea and on paper (boom boom!) makes sense. A pub is one of the places you’re likely to read a ‘digest’ style paper, which is aimed at “readers and lapsed readers” of all ages. Presumably someone figured that means pub-goers who might fancy a pint of middle market Dutch beer while browsing the day’s events.

However, it seems unlikely this will be a big winner for the i. Carlsberg don’t do online newspaper promotions…maybe Heineken shouldn’t either.

A PR Beauty

If there’s one site on the web that’s always good for a bit of media controversy, its dating site

Why controversial you mumble? For starters the site’s model can get the average (I’m trending super carefully with word choice here) person’s back up as only ‘beautiful’ people are allowed to join That’s beauty in the aesthetic, socially judgmental sense, rather than in the eye of the beholder sense. Beauty is determined by the site’s community, which is made up of good looking types that have been deemed pretty enough to join said community.

Having build a community of 700,000 odd members worldwide, you can argue the site’s controversial nature has made it a success. It has also give rise to some of the fluffiest fluff PR stories you’re likely to read.

For the latest, the site made headlines this week due to a reported virus. Did this virus knock out the company’s service for a long period, or perhaps steal personal, financial or other sensitive information? Not quite. The so-called ‘Shrek’ virus allowed over 30,000 new members to join in a six week period – 30,000 who were apparently just too “ugly” to join.

The site’s founder, Greg Hodge, apologised to users affected, stating “’We have sincere regret for the unfortunate people who were wrongly admitted to the site and who believed, albeit for a short while, that they were beautiful….’It must be a bitter pill to swallow, but better to have had a slice of heaven then never to have tasted it at all.”

Yeah, thanks Greg. Does anyone else feel their eyebrow creeping up their forehead a little, or at least the PR-BS alarm beginning to chime. If not, maybe you want to cast your eye over some past ‘news’ articles that features

  • In June last year the site began offering a new service – a sperm and egg bank. The idea was to allow “regular looking people” the chance to meet “beautiful people” who are willing to act as egg/sperm donors to increase the chance of your average ugo having good looking children
  • In January 2010 the site removed 5,000 members after the community complained many had gained weight over the Christmas and holiday period, making them too unattractive to remain members
  • Two months earlier in November 2009, the site released a survey of the ‘ugliest countries’ in the world, based on the number of users from various regions that had been rejected. Sadly for us Brits, we topped the list.